The Devil and Daniel Johnston

Critics Consensus

Whether you think this mentally ill cult musician is worthy of being called a "genius," this document of his life is crafted with sincere respect and is fascinating to watch.



Total Count: 110
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Movie Info

The Devil and Daniel Johnston is a stunning portrait of a musical genius that nearly slipped away. It depicts a perfect example of brilliance and madness going hand in hand. Because Daniel Johnston is an artist suffering from manic depression with delusions of grandeur, wild fluctuations, numerous downward spirals, and periodic respites mark his life. The film artfully melds current footage, vintage performances, home movies, and dozens of recorded audiotapes from Johnston's life. Testimony from supportive friends and a deeply committed family adds a rich layer to Johnston's personal history, but Daniel Johnston's poetic songs tell their own passionate, haunting, and truly unforgettable story.

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Critic Reviews for The Devil and Daniel Johnston

All Critics (110) | Top Critics (36)

  • The Devil and Daniel Johnston is an unflinching yet loving look at the outsider musician's life. It's also the most revealing look at genius and mental illness since Terry Zwigoff's 1994 documentary Crumb.

    Aug 10, 2006 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • A heartbreaking, yet strangely uplifting and inspirational, exploration of the fine line between genius and madness, and how sometimes, one becomes impossible to discern from the other.

    Jun 9, 2006 | Rating: 3/4
  • I found the documentary surprisingly diverting as a case study.

    May 12, 2006 | Full Review…
  • Rock 'n' roll's capacity for recycling legend means the stories of Johnston's life, and the way in which they're told, could easily fall into cliché. Instead they are original, engrossing and sometimes heartbreaking.

    May 6, 2006 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

    Matt McNally
    Top Critic
  • The troubled singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston is the subject of an entertaining documentary.

    May 6, 2006 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • To share Feuerzeig's loving investigation is to share an insightful study of the destructive and creative capabilities of the mind.

    May 4, 2006 | Full Review…

    Dave Calhoun

    Time Out
    Top Critic

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